This summer, Microsoft plans to release a free update for Entourage X, its email and personal information manager (PIM), that will make Entourage the official Exchange Server client for Mac OS X. Outlook 2001, the previous Exchange client for Macintosh, can run on Mac OS X only in classic mode. A Microsoft presenter said at the MEC conference last October that there would be no further development on the Outlook 2001 platform.
Entourage became available as a standalone program for the first time in January. Earlier, Microsoft sold it only as part of the Microsoft Office v. X for Mac suite. As with Outlook 2001 for Mac OS 9 and Outlook 2002 for Windows, an Exchange 2000 Server Client Access License (CAL) will entitle an organization to install Entourage without the need to purchase a separate license for Entourage.
Entourage will continue to access Exchange as an IMAP or POP client rather than a direct Messaging API (MAPI) client, according to Jessica Sommer, product manager for Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit. The forthcoming improvements focus mainly on Entourage's calendar and address book features. "We believe we've developed a Mac OS X solution for Entourage X that will give Exchange customers features that matter most to them, such as shared calendaring, calendar and address book synch, and access to global directory information," Sommer said.
Entourage users will be able to search the Exchange Global Address List (GAL), although how the enhanced GAL access in the updated version will differ from the GAL access that users can already configure in Entourage by using a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) address book isn't clear. Entourage users will also be able to look up the free/busy time of other Exchange users. Because Entourage already supports meeting requests through the iCalendar specification, the free/busy lookup is a key feature needed to provide shared calendaring with other Exchange clients.
In addition, users will be able to synchronize their personal Entourage calendar and address list with their Exchange mailbox. One email enhancement will be improved rendering of messages sent by Windows Outlook users. Mail from Windows users will appear in Entourage the way the sender created it.
Microsoft plans to release the enhancements for Entourage this summer in English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, and Swedish.